Journalism of Courage

Ogun PDP governorship primary: Supreme Court orders retrial of Jimi Lawal’s suit

It ordered the case to be remitted to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, in Abuja for determination by another Judge other than Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who refused to entertain the suit.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria on Monday dismissed an appeal filed on the nomination of the Ogun State PDP’s governorship candidate further deepening the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party.

Consequently, the Apex Court ordered that the suit instituted by a governorship aspirant, Jimi Lawal, be remitted to the Federal High Court for a fresh trial.

Justice Ibrahim Saulawa in a judgment in the appeal of the PDP held that the Federal High Court was wrong in declining jurisdiction in the matter of Jimi Lawal.

The Apex Court agreed with the Court of Appeal in Abuja that the Federal High Court had jurisdiction under Section 285 of the 1999 constitution and Section 84 (14) of the Electoral Act 2022 to hear Lawal’s case on its merit.

It ordered the case to be remitted to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, in Abuja for determination by another Judge other than Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who refused to entertain the suit.

In a unanimous judgment of a five-man panel of the Apex Court, Saulawa  ordered that the high court must “speedily hear the case of Lawal against Oladipupo Adebutu and the PDP within time allowed by law.”

Lawal, who contested the May 25 governorship primary election of the PDP,  had challenged the emergence of Adebutu, alleging that the unlawful delegates list was used by the party to conduct the election.

Among others, Lawal had urged that the purported primary election of May 25 be cancelled and another be conducted with the authentic ad hoc delegates.

However, Taiwo Taiwo of high court, in his judgment delivered on July 29, declined to hear the suit of Jimi Lawal on merit on the grounds that the primary election was a domestic affair of any political party and dismissed the suit.

Unsatisfied, Lawal approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja with a prayer that the decision of the high court should be voided and set aside on the grounds of miscarriage of justice.

A three-man panel of justices of the Appeal Court in their judgment delivered on September 30 agreed with Jimi Lawal, set aside the judgment of the FHC and ordered the suit be heard on its merit..

The PDP, not satisfied with the decision of the Appeal Court, approached the Supreme Court, praying that the judgment of the high court be upheld to the effect that the conduct of the primary election was its domestic affair.

Justice Saulawa disagreed with the PDP holding that by virtue of Section 285 of the 1999 constitution and Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022, the Federal High Court had power to hear the case of Jimi Lawal.

The Apex Court proceeded with an order to the Chief Judge of the FHC to reassign the case to another judge for retrial on its merit.

 

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